Skip to Content


Research and Policy banner

National Statement on Asia Literacy

The National Statement on Asia Literacy in Australian Schools 2011–2012 identifies the broad knowledge, skills and understandings required by all students to achieve Asia literacy.

Developed by AEF, the statement supports the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) (PDF: 955 KB), which acknowledges the need for all Australians to become Asia literate through their school education.

The Australian Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs Senior Officials Committee (AEEYSOC) noted the statement.

Download National Statement on Asia Literacy in Australian Schools 2011-2012 (PDF: 299 KB).

Business joins education sector to support Asia literacy

Peak education, business and community organisations support Asia literacy. See Call for a National Action Plan for Asia Literacy in Schools (PDF: 536 KB).

All education ministers agree in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) on the need for Australians to become Asia literate. To achieve this, the new Australian Curriculum identifies 'Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia' as a priority across the curriculum and at all levels of schooling. This requires young Australians to gain knowledge, skills and understandings of the histories, geographies, literatures, arts, cultures and languages of the diverse countries of Asia by the time they leave school.

Asia literacy is required to achieve the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians including the goals of:

  • Equity and excellence: ensuring that schooling contributes to a socially cohesive society that respects and appreciates cultural, social and religious diversity.
  • Successful learners: who are able to make sense of their world.
  • Confident and creative individuals: who have a sense of self worth and personal identity
  • Active and informed citizens: who are able to relate to and communicate across cultures, especially the cultures and countries of Asia and who can act as responsible global and local citizens. [1]

Asia literacy makes sense

Commitment to Asia literacy comes at a time when Australia's engagement with Asia now exceeds our engagement with the rest of the world combined in trade, investment, immigration, tourism, education and humanitarian assistance. [2]

Asia literacy makes a vital contribution to building the social capital of our nation, enriching Australian's creative and intellectual life. In an increasingly interdependent world, Asia literacy equips young Australians to be active and informed citizens, able to build harmonious regional and global communities that work together to resolve global issues that effect us all like sustainability. Importantly, Asia literacy skills young Australians to harness the opportunities presented by the economic powerhouses of Asia.

Size of the challenge

The size of the challenge to achieve Asia literacy is substantial. Most Australian teachers have had little opportunity to formally learn about Asia in their own education. There needs to be a plan to ensure new teachers are equipped with Asia knowledge in order to teach the Australian Curriculum.

Many Australian students currently learn little or nothing about Asia in their schooling. Only a minority of students undertake studies with an Asia focus in Year 12 History, English, Geography or Arts. Typically, 65 per cent of Modern History students in one state chose to study Germany and only 2 per cent chose China. [3]

Only 18.6 per cent of all school students study an Asian language, decreasing to fewer than 6 per cent in Year 12. [4]


[1] Goals 1 & 2: Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians

[2] PricewaterhouseCoopers Melbourne Institute Asialink Index 2011 (PDF: 1.3 MB)

[3] Studies of Asia in Year 12 (PDF: 7.8 MB), Wilkinson and Millgate, Australian Council for Educational Research, April 2009

[4] Four Languages, Four Stories: a Report on the Current State of Japanese, Indonesian, Korean and Chinese Language Education in Australian Schools, Asia Education Foundation May 2010

back to top